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College isn't the only path to success; getting paid while learning through apprenticeships was the best decision of my life. From owning investment properties to driving a nice truck, my PG&E electrical linesman job allows me to live comfortably.
The traditional four-year college degree isn't the only route to a rewarding career in today's dynamic world. In fact, multiple avenues are available for those considering a career switch or just starting out. These range from formal apprenticeships to trade schools to online resources. Let's explore these paths in order of general recommendation:
1. Apprenticeships and Helper Roles
The age-old "learning by doing" method is still one of the most effective ways to build a solid career. Getting on board with a paid pre-apprenticeship, helper role, or a direct apprenticeship with a reputable company or union tops our list. Why?
- Real-world experience: You learn the nuances of the job hands-on.
- Earn while you learn: Instead of incurring debt, you're earning a paycheck.
- Networking: Being in the industry exposes you to professionals, which can lead to future job opportunities.
2. Federal Training Programs such as Job Corps / HBI
For those under 24, programs like Job Corps and HBI present a golden opportunity. Not only are they free, but they also provide structured training in trades. Additionally, initiatives like Grid Alternatives offer specialized training, like in the solar sector.
- Structured learning: Offers a balance of classroom learning and practical experience.
- Support: These programs often provide additional resources like job placement assistance.
3. Self-teaching via Online Platforms
Believe it or not, platforms like YouTube can be your gateway to a career in trades. By self-teaching and honing basic skills, you can make yourself appealing for an apprenticeship or helper role.
- Flexibility: Learn at your own pace and on your own schedule.
- Variety: Access to a wide array of tutorials, from basics to advanced techniques.
4. Trade School / Community College
Though you may need to shell out some money for this route, attending a trade school or community college can still be viable. However, keep these pointers in mind:
- Research is key: All trade schools aren't created equal. Look for schools with strong job placement records. Many trade schools are spammy.
- Cost: Remember, while paying for education, others might earn and learn simultaneously elsewhere, so you are starting in debt.
5. Traditional College Degree
While a college degree is undeniably valuable in many sectors, especially if you're aiming for fields that demand an academic background like engineering, it's crucial to weigh the costs.
- Specialization: Some careers, especially in STEM, may require a college degree.
- Cost Consideration: With soaring tuition fees, the financial burden is real. Ensure the ROI (return on investment) makes sense for your chosen career path.
In conclusion, the best route largely depends on your career aspirations, financial situation, and learning style. Whether it's through an apprenticeship, trade school, or college, the goal is to find a path that aligns with your vision for the future. Whatever you choose, invest your time and energy whole heartedly,and success is sure to follow.